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Reading Rhythms

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Happy New Year! Since I know you probably didn’t settle into any good books last night, may today begin your 2018 reading rhythm journey. But before we can say goodbye to 2017, I would love to know, did you have a consistent, thought out, daily rhythm of reading last year?

Alright, you read some blogs, newspapers and nightly scrolled through news on the Onion.

But I’m referencing a discipline of reading to expand your mind as a leader, advance your spiritual heart health as a Christian, and strengthen your soul on your journey with Jesus.

If you add anything to your to do list this new year, besides the diet, gym membership and budget… add reading.

I remember being captured in college by a leader, pastor and theologian, Gordon MacDonald, when I read in his book, Ordering Your Private World, that he would spend 1 hour each day reading. It was in college when I took that to heart and made it one of my values to read for at least 30 minutes each day.

Leaders are learners, and reading must be a part of that rhythm. My morning routine includes time reading a Psalm, Prophet, Epistle and Gospel on the app, Overflow. I do some pushups and crunches to get the blood flowing, and then I settle into my favorite wooden rocking chair for 30 minutes to read something on my reading list. I am always striving to grow as a leader of God’s people and His community.

Don’t consider yourself a leader? Well, my Texas born Grandma, Bernice, doesn’t either, but she has made it in this world to be a 90-year-old woman. She still mows the yard and cools off by drinking a Lone Star Light in her rocking chair after the work is done. What does she attribute her long life to? Reading. Learning. Keeping her mind sharp as nails.

Alright, I hope your convinced. You agree, you want to set aside 30 minutes per day to read.

Here are some of my general goals for my reading rhythm that I hope might help you in yours in 2018:

  • Create a reading book list. Having fifteen barely begun books marked off after chapter one on your nightstand doesn’t make for a good list. That’s just a pile of books you might get to someday, and a waste of money. Step one is to make a list of books you really want to read this year. Be specific, not hap hazard about what you pull off the shelf. Create your book list, it’s not too late. Begin today. Then...
  • Choose wisely. Break your list down into a few different categories. Organize the books. Make your own categories, and here are some suggestions. Choose a few books to put in each category.
    • Fun fiction books: Maybe Dan Brown’s latest Origin or John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar. You will not agree with everything in these books but they can be entertaining, a pulse into culture and a peek into the creativity that God has given to humanity.
    • Biographical books: Check out anything by Eric Metaxas. His look at Martin Luther’s life was phenomenal. I hope to crank through his work on Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy real soon.
    • Spiritual growth book: Pick a few that will deepen your relationship with God. Maybe an apologetic book like The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller. A short book I am absolutely loving right now that is an evangelical focused book is entitled Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis. It will focus your heart on what’s most important in sharing Jesus with others.
    • Culture/Generations: You have heard a ton about Millennials, well, let James Emery White help you those that are in Preschool through early college age now, Meet Generation Z.
    • Insert your own categories here.
  • Clarify quarterly. Make quarterly checkpoints throughout the year to review your reading list. Tweak it as Jesus leads you. One book might not be on the list at the end of the year that started on it.
  • Capture your learning style. Not everyone can sit for hours and read. Some people space out or get bored. Some of you can retain more long term by listening to a book. For those of you that spend countless hours in a daily commute to work, try Audible They used to be called, “books on tape”. For some of you reading aloud might also be better than reading silently. Try it.

I’m convinced that Jesus loved to read. He wasn’t born with all the knowledge of the world. Paul let us know in a letter to the Philippians that Jesus “emptied” Himself of His godly knowledge to become a man. Luke speaks to Jesus’ growth in knowledge through reading and listening, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (2:52). The most important reading you can include each day this year is to meditate on God's Word day and night.

Happy reading this year! Happy New Year!

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